I am intending to make this into a new set of articles that will appear on this website. Obviously, these species will not be the only ones that are covered – for those who read this website regularly, you will know that I talk about a wide range of species.
The species that I am going to look at are those which often attract visitors to see just them. With the majority of the species we will follow they are found across a surprisingly large number of countries – some however are as interesting but are found in only one country. In each instance we will look at an entire group of species that look similar. However, due to the differences in these many different countries, these species can be thriving in one country and threatened with local extinction in another. As a result it is important to give this more focus.
These articles will be marked by SW
Those species that I will initially focus on include:
Lion which are spread across 26 African countries as well as currently one location in India, and represent 2 species, roughly divided into eastern and southern African lions, and western and northern lions in Africa which are essentially the same subspecies as the Asiatic lion (and the now extinct barbary lion) Click here for our page on lions
Leopards are found across 75 countries in Africa and Asia (the Caucuses Leopard population crossed into a bit of Europe as well). There are 9 subspecies and as with many of the other species looked at above, leopard conservation status is very different in different places, however there is nowhere where the population is growing fast. Click here for our page on Leopards
Tiger are found in 13 countries, though in the past they roamed all Asian countries as well as parts of most eastern Europe. Through a great effort, their population has grown in most countries over the last decade, but is still a small fragment of the population that existed 100 years ago. It is also hugely fragmented, and many countries have very small populations that still face imminent local extinction without more action.
Jaguar Found in about 18 countries from Mexico to Argentina, as with many other species on this list, there conservation status varies from country to country, but as a whole the population has been dropping
Cheetah found mostly south and east of the Sahara, there is also a small population on the edge of the Sahara, as well as in Iran – whether either of these can survive for much longer is still a big question. Cheetah, while not generally an apex predator are very good indicators as they generally only survive either outside protected areas or in large reserves. There are thought to be 7000-8000 cheetah in southern and eastern Africa, probably only about 250 in north western Africa, and likely less than 40 in Iran. Click here for our page on Cheetahs
Gorilla which are spread across 10 countries in Africa. There are 4 subspecies, though cross-river gorillas have only about 300 remaining members, and mountain gorillas just 800. While the western lowland gorilla still has about 100,000 wild members, threats are so numerous, that it is also listed as critically endangered, due to the huge range of threats to this population. The Eastern lowland gorilla is thought to number 5000 wild members (this is down from an estimate of 17,000 around 25 years ago.
Chimpanzee which currently exist in 21, of the 25 countries that they were originally found in – all in Africa. There are also 4 recognized subspecies- eastern, western central and Cameroon-Nigerian, unfortunately all are endangered. From a country perspective, some have many while others are not far from loosing chimpanzees perhaps forever.
Bonobo also known as pygmy chimpanzee this animal is only found in the DRC. the Congo river splits this species from the rest of African chimpanzees. There decline has been alarming and need attention
Orangutan also only found in one country (though formerly more wide spread, the orangutan is now only found in Indonesia. It requires more attention.
Rhino Found across Africa and Asia at one time. Nowadays there are 2 species of rhino in Africa (white and black rhino). There are 3 in Asia, which includes the greater one horned rhino of India and Bhutan, as well as the Sumatran rhino (now restricted to Sumatra and borneo, but only lost from mainland Asia in in recent years) and the Javan rhino (this rhino is now restricted to one area in Java, however they were once found in Sumatra as well as throughout Southeast Asia, and into India and China. Click here for our page on Rhino
Elephant Once found throughout much of the world, the modern elephant has been restricted to Africa and Asia. At the current time they are found in 13 Asian countries, Forest elephants roam Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon and Central African Republic in central Africa and Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Ghana in west Africa and are listed as critically endangered, while Bush elephants are found in a total of 37 countries – in some of these the bush elephant lives in great numbers. Others host very few. Click here for our page on elephants
Bear while clearly not one species I will also look at bears across the world. There are 8 bear species including Asiatic black bears (7 subspecies), American black bears (split at least 3 million years ago and with 16 subspecies recognized) Brown bear with 16 subspecies recognized – and perhaps as much as 4 subspecies already lost, Panda bear with 2 subspecies, polar bear, Sloth bear with 2 subspecies recognized, the spectacled bear from south America, the sun bear of which there are 2 subspecies
Wolf there are 3 species and as much as 40 subspecies identified. While not a wolf, I will also include the wild dog in this category as they fulfil a similar niche in the food chain.
This covers 12 species. Each one is dramatically reduced compared to before the advent of man, though by how much is a different matter.